I was in charge of various preparations more than a year before Shinkansen operations began. However, it was in mid-September when I first drove the bullet train between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka stations on the same timetable to be used following the inauguration. In truth, I rarely drove the Shinkansen on time before Oct. 1.
On the day the Shinkansen debuted, we joked: "It'll be good enough if [the first trains] can run far enough that people on the platforms can no longer see them." No one expected the trains would arrive at the stations on time. But, miraculously, we did not have any trouble during the first run. That was a great mystery.
We created a rather loose timetable, so we actually didn't have to drive the Shinkansen at 200 kph. However, as the Shinkansen was approaching Kyoto Station, one of the conductors asked us: "When will our speed reach 200 kph?" "Oh, my goodness," I thought, realizing our passengers were expecting the Shinkansen to run at 200 kph. They were able to check the speedometer in the cafe car.
We didn't want to disappoint our guests, so we decided to drive the train at 200 kph at one point. However, that meant that the train would get ahead of schedule. But they probably wouldn't notice if the Shinkansen ran slower just after leaving Kyoto Station and just before arriving at Nagoya Station. So I accelerated the train to reach its maximum speed of 210 kph during the reminder of this section. The first service was nothing but an event train.
It was quite challenging for us to keep the train on time when it passed, arrived at or left stations. The Shinkansen was running a little ahead of schedule before arriving at Tokyo Station. This was undesirable, so we reduced speed just before the station. Trains on [parallel] conventional lines were running faster than the Shinkansen, but we didn't care. Passengers on those trains were smiling at the Shinkansen running slower than them. But we drove slowly.
As the Shinkansen passed buildings around Shimbashi Station, people were looking at the bullet train from most of the windows, waving at us. In the end, it probably was good that we had driven faster toward Tokyo Station and then run slower to allow the Shinkansen to arrive at the station on time.